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Joining God in Ephesus: A Lasting Impact in a Confusing Place

Joining God in Ephesus: A Lasting Impact in a Confusing Place


and the four and the twenty elders were before the throne and they said holy holy holy is the lord


god almighty he was and he is and he is to come


the whole earth is full of his glory and I agree with the psalmist as he said


I was glad when they said let us go into the house of the lord I am so grateful to be here with


you today as we formally begin a journey together as I begin serving as your


transitional pastor so let me be clear on the transitional pastor I’m only going to be here in


limited ways I’ll be here in Monroe on Sundays and Wednesday afternoon and evenings and on


other special events like the men's breakfast and the goal is for me to be here as the


church kind of adjusts and thinks through and discovers what god is saying and what god wants to


do in the next full-time ongoing pastor but I’m not going to think of myself and


I’m not going to call myself the transitional pastor I’m just a pastor


a pastor loves god and loves the people of god and he loves the church


and I absolutely love this church every time I drive from the south up


north on 405 and I get north of Bellevue


it just feels so good I have had extremely meaningful


experiences with churches in Kirkland particularly Bothell and Lynnwood as well


as here in Monroe and I still can't believe that people pay me to do what I do in working with


the churches and so thank you for that I


am especially grateful to the church today because of what happened yesterday


at 4 51 pm last July my

Gods Church


peer age brother-in-law was diagnosed with the stage four kidney cancer


and he was given two to four months to live and the lord saw fit to extend his


life and while my wife patty and I have been witnessing to my sister my


brother-in-law over the years that was kind of the tipping point that led Shirley and Greg


to go back to church after having been out for so many years and I’m not sure what all happened but


they fell in love with Jesus all over again they fell in love with the church all


over again in fact as much as I loved talking about the church I kind


of got tired of my sister talking about how great the church is because the church did everything right


in other words, they did what we find in the scripture that churches simply do it was such an encouragement to me to


know that while my family is in other places god's church is in other places


there's a church in Rhode Island that's taking care of my grandchildren there's a church in downtown Seattle that's


ministering to our son Tim there's a church in Lakewood where my wife patty is at today


and that people are god are just awesome the people of god are following god according to the scriptures and the


teaching of the holy spirit and so as I’m starting this time with you no longer a guest preacher but now


uh your pastor with the blessing of pastor dale and by the way I’ve been communicating with him all week and he


appreciated the snacks that you sent him off with he did not arrive hungry


and uh just thinking about what all is going on here I wanted to start today by


introducing you to the book of Ephesians that I want to preach to you from on


Sunday mornings until we finish or god leads otherwise turn with me in your bibles to the book


of acts of the apostles in chapter 19 the story really begins in chapter 18


when Paul says god has put it upon my heart to go to Ephesus and it continues through the end of


chapter 20. I’m going to be drawing from the opening 20 verses of acts chapter 19


and only reading to you the opening ten verses to kind of set the stage and give you something of a general and a


different kind of a sermon to get us all on the same page before we come back next week and dive deeply


into the book of Ephesians and so the title of the message is joining god in Ephesus


and we always need to remember that we're not inviting god to join us we're always in the process of finding out


where god is or where god is working and we are adjusting our lives in order to join him

and what's unusual is that Ephesus was a city of commerce


and it was at a crossroads and at a port and had all these wonderful things going on so that literally all of Asia would


come and go through the city of Ephesus and here is a city that is known for its


magic it's known for its idolatry of Artemis of the Ephesians and into this


unusual and difficult and confusing environment the holy spirit says Paul I want you to go here and I want you to


make a lasting impact in a confusing place and so acts 19 in verse 1 and it

Acts 1819


happened that while Apollos was at Corinth Paul passed through the inland country


and came to Ephesus there he found some disciples and he said to them did you receive the


holy spirit when you believed and they said no we have not even heard that there is a


holy spirit and he said into what then were you baptized they said into john's baptism


and Paul said john baptized with the baptism of repentance


telling the people to believe in the one who was coming after him that is Jesus


on hearing this they were baptized in the name of the lord Jesus and when Paul had laid hands on them the holy spirit


came on them and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying there were about 12 men in all


and he Paul entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of


god but when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief speaking evil of


the way before the congregation he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him reasoning daily in


the hall of Tyrannus this continued for two years so that all the residents of asia heard the word of


the lord both jews and greeks and may god add his blessing to the reading of this portion of his word in

all god's people said amen and so our passion is like the apostle paul's


passion that we are about the process of joining god


in catalyzing healthy and fruitful leaders and groups you want to go to the next


slide there thank you and so it's not what we are doing but it's what


god is doing that we get to be a part of and I love that word catalyze you know you won't find that in a particular


translation of the bible it's not a biblical word but it is a descriptive word of how god works and that god


engages he takes the initiative and he causes a response in the right direction


and in a good way so catalyzing makes something happen but catalyzing also removes barriers that


are keeping good things from happening right now all of us have in different areas of our lives things that should be


happening and could be happening and would be happening except there are some barriers and some limitations that are


keep them from happening and what god is doing and what god wants to do in our lives and what god wants to


do in the church first Baptist church of Monroe and in churches literally across the nation and around the world is he


wants to tap into people's lives and help them to be healthy people and


fruitful people and make disciples and leaders that will further the church and further the kingdom of


god now there is a difference between being healthy and being fruitful


being healthy and being fruitful because you can be healthy and not be fruitful you can be fruitful and


not be be healthy my brother-in-law he was not healthy and he


continued to be unhealthy in his body these past months but he became fruitful


even when he wasn't healthy he died and he graduated to heaven yesterday at 4 51


pm and he died well he died fruitful and he died spiritually healthy because of


the church people that were willing to reach out to even a sick and frail and fragile kind of a person we just gotta


love the church and that's what Paul was doing he's saying god how are you working in our world how are


you wanting to work through me and so Paul adjusts his life and he goes where the holy spirit leads him to go and he


comes to Ephesus and so three things that we can pull from the opening 20


verses to set the stage for the book of Ephesians number one the disciples were


corrected the disciples were corrected there's a few words that kind of stand


out to me in these opening verses and that is that of the holy spirit that


of baptism and disciple making and overcoming ignorance overcoming ignorance


Paul comes and he finds these disciples of john he finds that they're disciples of john the Baptist and they have been


baptized into repentance but they did not know about or received the holy spirit they had not yet been baptized in


Jesus name it's good to be baptized for repentance but when you're baptized in Jesus name


you are buried with him in death and you are raised to newness and life it's not


just a matter of ending the old and the bad but it's the new thing that god puts


in us through the holy spirit and through the scriptures and through the ministry of the church


and so these disciples who had not heard about the holy spirit they accepted the teaching


they received the teaching and so they accepted the correction and they moved from ignorance to knowing about they


were baptized in the name of Jesus and they received the holy spirit


of the things that will happen to us in the coming weeks and months I look forward to the times when some that we


will be reaching will be baptized and they will be lowered into the water symbolic to the death to the old way of


life but more importantly raised to newness in life to be a different kind of a person a transformed person through


the work of Jesus Christ and so after this initial encounter the apostle Paul goes in the synagogue


for three months with his 12 disciples more disciples are being made but there are always some stubborn people that are


outspoken and they oppose the way which is what the bible calls christianity at


this point and because of the evil speaking Paul moves from the jewish synagogue to


the secular or the city hall of tyrannis and he takes not just the 12 disciples


but all the disciples who had been made in that three-month period of time and now there's quite a group and almost a


beginning movement in the uh the hall of tyrannis and so for two perhaps even two

and a half years the apostle Paul is daily teaching in the hall of tyrannos


our best understanding is that they did work in the morning around noon time everyone did a long european style lunch


in siesta and so people would take long sleeping naps in the afternoon that was


paul's primary time to teach everybody that was around before they went back to work later on in the afternoon and in


the evenings and so he had ample opportunity or an experience extended period of time to see many people come


to faith in Jesus Christ and the bible says that literally people from all over asia heard the gospel because of paul's


moving around and making a difference don't you admire people


who know when to move

When to move


I’m a change-oriented kind of person my wife is don't change anything on me and


we've had some interesting experiences in our marriage we work that out that I can go anywhere


I want in the world so long as I eventually come back


she smiles when I get on a plane to go someplace and fortunately she smiles when I come back


but there are those that god calls and says I want you to go somewhere I want you to be


somewhere I want you to push the cultural envelope just a little bit I


want you to make an impact I want you to make a difference and the question that we must ask


ourselves is do we move to the right things in the right way


and at the right time do we know when to step back


when there's such resistance and opposition that we can be more fruitful somewhere else


there's a lot that we are going to be learning in the book of Ephesians as we learn about those who know when to move


and how to move and so like the disciples of john we want to be thinking about where are we


lacking or where are we behind where is there something that's not in place in


our lives what have we perhaps missed in the past and as we delve into the book of Ephesians god may be saying some


really important things to us including about the circles that we run in are they encouraging us to do the right


thing well a second thing that's found in the following verses 11 through 17


because Paul was on mission with god because the holy spirit led him and he came to the city of Ephesus


not only were john's disciples corrected but the gospel teaching was protected


the gospel teaching was protected and the keys from these verses of scripture have to do with the hand and the power


of god have to do with spiritual warfare while addressing confusion in the city


of Ephesus there was so much confusion because Ephesus was a corrupt


magical city they're renowned for this statue of


artemis of the Ephesians it was big business in that town


there's a lot of money that was made a lot of money that was invested and so even as the true gospel and good


teaching was coming into the town the holy spirit gave Paul great favor and


great power and many miracles were taking place the people were experiencing the power


of god but they were attributed in it to things that were not completely of god


they thought that the power of god was not just coming from Paul but coming from anything that Paul touched and so


they were picking up his dirty and smelly sweat rags thinking that that's where the power was coming from because


they were an idol or just people they were used to incantations they were used to symbols they were used to tangible


things god does not normally work through tangible things he works through the holy spirit he works through the


scriptures and he works through people largely in the church but they didn't know any better


and so in the process of all of this the hand and the power of god is forthright spiritual warfare is a big part of


what's going on here and what's going on in the book of Ephesians and during this


time there were some itinerant jewish exorcists


they were called the seven sons of a man named Skeva and they were in the business of


receiving money to cast out demons there was so much demonic and spiritual activity in Ephesus they made a business


out of it and so as they made a business out of this they said hey we see the power of


Paul and the power of the name of Jesus we're going to start using the name of Jesus and so they started using the name


of Jesus to cast out evil spirits but the evil spirit said to them said Jesus we know and Paul we know but who are you


you can use the incantation of the name of Jesus and it's not going to have


power but if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord that's where the power comes in


and so the evil spirit stripped them naked and beat them and ran them off and said that you cannot use the name of


Jesus for your name you cannot use the name of Jesus for


your prophet you don't use the name of Jesus for your recognition


you don't use the name of Jesus to build your business you may not like this but you don't use


the name of Jesus to build a nation we've even got to be careful the kind of church that we're building when we're


using Jesus name god is passionate for his glory he will


not share his glory with anyone for any other purpose his glory is that he would


work through Christians and work through the church and work through those who are submitted to him in such a way so


that god receives the glory we get a lot of benefits out of it but


the teaching was protected that the prosperity gospel is not the gospel


the health and wealth gospel is not the gospel the gospel is that Jesus Christ died on


the cross for our sins and god raised him from the dead and all who call upon his name will be saved


I come here to serve alongside of you I come here to be blessed by you I come


here to in a servant way lead you to see more people come into the kingdom of god


through their faith in Jesus Christ we must be careful even today about


those who would use the church who would use the gospel for their own personal


fulfillment and for their own personal promotion be careful of those who would corrupt it because god is always in the


process of protecting the gospel teaching be thinking about where


are we lacking in faith be thinking about in what areas is god leading us to trust him more


god wants us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily and to follow him


we're here to promote the name of Jesus we're not here to promote anyone or


anything else lastly and in verses 18 through 20


because of Paul being on mission and Paul moving where the holy spirit wanted


him to move going to a place and doing what he's supposed to do in the right way at the right time


communities were directed the disciples were corrected the gospel


teaching was protected and the communities were directed and the key words here have to do with


embedding and confessing and indulg and divulging it has to do with what


happens to a person what happens to a group of people what happens to a city


when it the gospel takes root in that place what happens there's a transformation


there's an upset apple cart the old things have passed away behold new things have come if any man woman or


child is in Christ Jesus and so here the establishment


established disciples were transformed and the scripture says that these people


who once practiced magic who some were one in the synagogue and some were one in the hall of Tyrannus they were so


moved and so caught by the spirit of god they began to slough off and to get rid


of the things of the incantations and the magic arts in fact it says in the


text that they brought their magic books together and books were quite valuable because


there were no printing presses and had the records of all the secret spiritual things that they had been doing all of


their lives that had been passed on to them and they brought them into a pile


and they lit them on fire and they burned them all up it is a radical turn from one way of


thinking and living to another way of thinking and living and the scripture says that the value of that was uh 5 000


50 000 pieces of silver a huge amount of money was burned up because


people were saying undone with a confusing and a magical and con a


confusing kind of a lifestyle and this is how the gospel took root


in the city of Ephesus that led to the writing of the book of Ephesians to the church there in


all of this there's always those that are going to suffer when there is a radical change of life and so demetrius


the silversmith he says guys this is going to endanger our income we're making a lot of money selling all these


idols and all these magical things and so he stirred up the crowd and somehow


someway god got the attention of the city or the town clerk


and he said guys we need to knock this off we need to calm this down we're still under roman rule and they're going


to come in and take care of us and do business against us if we don't


calm down with this illegal gathering so he calmed the city down

How the city was transformed


and somehow god protected the church that was being birthed in


this process even by the city or the town clerk


it's interesting how the city of Ephesus was transformed nobody came in with an army nobody came


in with authority nobody came down and said we're going to force you to do this and force you to do that


perhaps the greatest letter of the greatest church in all of the new testament Ephesians


is because the people that received the gospel they were transformed in how they lived


their lives I’ve always got to ask myself when I think about these kinds of things what


has not yet been transformed in my life so that I could have the same kind of


impact where I live like what these early believers had in Ephesus


we want to be thinking about where is god not welcome in Monroe and what are we going to do about it


we want to be thinking about what god is calling us to give up for him and for his glory


we never know what it is that god would have us give up that will lead to us being observed


and someone else in the neighborhood or at work or at the checkout counter wherever we may find ourselves may say I


don't know what happened to you but whatever it is I want to know more

Speaking against false idols


I want to know more I may not yet know what you have but I know that I want it


as we dare to speak against culture as we dare to speak against false idols


as we dare to see changes in our lives and in our neighborhoods and in our


community you can bet that the fangs and the claws are going to come out

May we be found faithful


but nevertheless like the Christians in Ephesus may we be found faithful


joyful not regretting what we burn and give up


faithful even though it comes with a price may we be found as those


that have something that other people want we don't know everything that went on


this is paul's longest time in one place two and a half years or so


during this time he wrote the books first and second Corinthians that's


pretty cool a great church that got in so much trouble they did horrendous terrible


things he wrote that book about what you need to change and make right


because of his being with these new believers who gave up their magic in Ephesus


who knows what impact you might have that we might have together


because of the changes that god leads us to make as we take a spiritual perspective


on what it means to be in ministry with god we're joining god

Join God in Ephesus


in Ephesus we want to learn about impacting a


confused city and maybe god may help us to impact Monroe in a


way that we never even imagined we never know what god is going to do


according to first Corinthians 15 32 the apostle Paul as he's in Ephesus writing


to the Christians in Corinthians he is saying that he is having a lot of suffering


as he writes the book second Corinthians shortly after that he says that he's fighting for his very life against wild


animals our best understanding is that Paul probably had at least a short stay in


prison while he was in Ephesus in addition he made a quick trip too and


a quick trip back from Corinth during this time it's not easy to give things up it's not


easy to break through old things but when we do that great things will happen


I pray that god will lead us to learn from Paul and from the church


at Ephesus and in closing so that acts 19 20 can become a reality for us


on the last slide so the word of the lord continues to increase


and prevail mightily the word of the lord continued to



increase and prevail mightily


I don't understand it, it has absolutely nothing to do with me


that is not false humility that's just the honest truth


somehow in the 24 countries where I have been where


we thought I was going to be speaking to 50 or 70 people sometimes hundreds and sometimes thousands of people would show


up I stopped counting at about 11 000


people who made professions of faith there were so many that so many people


want to know how many this time how many that times that you're losing the focus it's not about the numbers it's about


the hand and the power of god what I can say is that everywhere that I


have gone around the world whether it's been 50 people who came to


Christ or sometimes thousands of people who came to Christ there was always a pastor


and there was always an old man and an old woman who were the keeper of the wisdom in the


tribes in the villages and there was always a church of devoted


faithful people who had changed the way they lived


who gave up ancestral worship and traditions who gave up other faiths and religions who walked away from things


it's never been my preaching and teaching it has always been what the people of


god have turned away from that god then blessed in incredible ways


I’m praying and I’m trusting and I’m hoping that the best is yet to be for the first


Baptist church of Monroe I stand on the shoulders of those before


me right now I’m standing on pastor dale's shoulders


he set you and me up to build off of what he has done these


past years I go to churches that are in trouble and I go to churches that are in a really


sweet place this church is in a really sweet place


god is wanting to do and about to do something miraculous


because of the previous pastor's faithfulness and because of your faithfulness


and I can't wait to see what god is about to do


you think about that as we pray heavenly father


it is a joy a privilege and a delight to be here today


and what the church in Bakersfield has been to my sister and late brother-in-law


what other churches have been where there has been a large disciple-making harvest


I pray that you would help us as first Baptist church Monroe to be steadfast


immovable and faithful in giving up and moving to everything that you would


have us do as we share this transitional time together


I thank you even now god for the full-time pastor that will come after me


and I pray god that not only will you be preparing him but will you be preparing us


by helping us grow in health and being fruitful


for your good purpose and for your glory in Jesus name


I pray in all god's people said right amen

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